BUILDING work on a new £9m small animal hospital in Neston has begun.

The scheme was approved by borough planners, who heard it should be open by 2006.

The facility is being built in the grounds of the University of Liverpool's Leahurst Veterinary Teaching Hospital on Chester High Road.

It will become a centre of excellence for the UK, offering advanced treatments and techniques including MRI scans, surgery and the study of diseases.

Professor Sandy Trees, dean of faculty of veterinary science at Leahurst, said: 'This will be for referred specialist cases by vets from around the UK.

Borough MP Andrew Miler took part in the foundation ceremony, he said: 'This facility will help advance the understanding of the next generation of veterinary scientists.'

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